Abu Dhabi National Day

The Greening of the Desert


NEWSUBSTANCE designed and delivered our automated Grass Path and Palm Tree system for the Opening Ceremony of National Day 2018.

Event Statistics

2018 was officially the Year of Zayed, celebrating 100 years since the birth of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Opening Ceremony for this significant National Day and historic celebration welcomed over 22,000 spectators. The ceremony was an unmissable showcase of the UAE’s rich cultural heritage, its diverse present and its exciting future.

— Client

Done and Dusted

— Location

Abu Dhabi

Created with Sketch.
Created with Sketch.


NEWSUBSTANCE designed a bespoke grass path system, comprising of 2,500 individual tubes that were strategically arranged and fixed to the underside of the stage deck. Each tube contained an individually hand-made grass bundle and stepper motor that drove the grass up. The bungs were formed from carefully selecting a variation of artificial grass types and planting them together into small pots using a two-part resin. Secured to stepper motors within the PVC tubes, the grass bundles could be driven upwards through the scenic deck to grow out from the stage. Using a custom designed video input to mechanical output interface we were able to convert art net and DMX signals into stepper motor commands; enabling us to directly manipulate each unit of grass to create an array of visual effects. The effect was a wave of grass that rose gradually across the stage to visualise the ‘greening of the desert’.